TIL that jquery's $('#someform').serialize(); will output nothing if there's a syntax error in the form HTML markup.

I actually added a parameter to a <select> field, so it looked like <select type="type" name="type"> , obviously I wasn't paying much attention because type="type" shouldn't be there at all. As soon as I removed that parameter jquery serialize would work as intended again.

hours_spent_debugging_pebkac += 1;

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